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Is Your Record Really Made of Vinyl?

Back in the day, the recording industry shifted from pressing vinyl to injection molding polystyrene, especially for 45 rpm records. The Cactus Cowboy explains why and how to tell if your vintage vinyl really isn’t.

Norbert Sparrow

November 13, 2020

So, you’ve got a nice collection of vintage vinyl salvaged from your misspent youth, but are those records really made of vinyl? Some of them might be polystyrene (PS). How can you tell, and does it matter? The Cactus Cowboy has the answers.

In a short video that clocks in under six minutes on his Youtube channel, the Cactus Cowboy explains that back in its heyday the recording industry shifted from pressing PVC “pucks” between two stamps, heating the material, and trimming flash from the edges to injection molding polystyrene. The reason, as you can imagine, was speed and efficiency, especially beneficial when it came to cranking out 45s.

It’s fairly easy to tell the difference between a PVC and PS record. For one thing, the label is pressed into the PVC during the stamping process, whereas it is glued onto molded PS records. The appearance of the grooves is also a giveaway. And then there’s the tap test. Curious? You’ll have to watch the video for the lowdown on that.

As for the difference in sound quality, the Cactus Cowboy says it’s a toss up. In other corners of the internet, there is a raging debate. Of course there is.

Rock on!

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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